Yesterday a bill granting health benefits for the domestic partners of state employees was approved by the Colorado state Senate, although the bill must voted on one more time before it can move to the state House.
The measure (Senate Bill 88) would add domestic partners to the list of dependents eligible for coverage. Same-sex partners who have been in a committed partnership with a state employee for at least a year would qualify as a domestic partner. Sponsor Sen. Jennifer Veiga, D-Denver, said it was a “fair and equitable” step that would help Colorado compete for employees with businesses and other states that offer such coverage. She also said 17 Colorado counties and cities already offer such benefits. But some Republican senators who opposed the bill said it violates the will of the voters. Two years ago, voters rejected Referendum I, which would have granted domestic partner status to same-sex couples. They also passed a constitutional ban on gay marriage. Sen. Greg Brophy, R-Wray, ran down a list of the margins by which Referendum I had failed in several districts. Sen. Scott Renfroe, R-Greeley, said he opposed the bill because it goes against his religious beliefs. He quoted Bible verses about creation and homosexuality during the debate. “Homosexuality is seen as a violation of this natural created law, and it is an offense to God,” he said.
There are only an estimated 79 same-sex partners of state employees who would benefit from the bill.